Kim Ha-Sung stops at 164km monster run…tears at Darbishu Asian record

A parade of hard-hitting fastballs from starters and relievers brought the bat of ‘Awesome Kim’ to a halt.

San Diego Padres’ ‘Awesome 메이저놀이터 Kim’ Ha-seong Kim (28) struggled with a no-hitter. Kim Ha-seong batted first and played second base in the home game against the Baltimore Orioles of the 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) at Petco Park in San Diego, California, U.S., on April 15 (local time).

San Diego’s lineup for the game was Ha-Sung Kim (second base), Fernando Tatis Jr. (right field), Juan Soto (left field), Manny Machado (third base), Zander Bogaerts (shortstop), Jake Cronenweth (first base), Luis Camposano (catcher), Garrett Cooper (designated hitter), Trent Grisham (center field), and starting pitcher Darvish Yu.

The visiting Baltimore Orioles completed their starting lineup with Adley Rutchman (catcher), Gunner Henderson (shortstop), Anthony Santander (right field), Ryan O’Hearn (first base), Ryan Mountcastle (designated hitter), Cedric Mullins (center field), Ramon Urias (third base), Aaron Hicks (left field), Jordan Westberg (second base), and starter Grayson Rodriguez.

On this day, Kim’s “hit factory” came to a halt. A parade of hard-hitting pitches from Baltimore’s starters and relievers halted Kim’s hit production. In the bottom of the first inning, Kim battled hard to get on base after Rodriguez’s first pitch, a 99 mph (158 km/h) four-seam fastball outside the zone, was called a strike and he followed it up with two consecutive foul pitches, but the pitcher grounded out. It came on a 101 mph (163 km/h) four-seam fastball that was five pitches in. San Diego produced the first hit of the game when Tatis Jr. singled to right, but was stranded at second when Soto flied out to shortstop.

After a scoreless first inning, Darvish threw a five-pitch, 85-mph (137-kilometer) sweeper to leadoff hitter O’Hearn in the second inning, only to give up a solo home run to right field. It was O’Hearn’s 10th home run of the season.

The Padres had runners on second and third in the bottom of the second on a single to left by Bogart and an error by Hicks in left field, but Camposano flied out to shortstop to end the inning.

The bottom of the third inning was no different for San Diego. Cooper flied out to left field and Grisham grounded out to second base, forcing Kim to face his second at-bat with two outs. Facing Rodriguez on a full count this time, Kim hit a seven-pitch, 86-mph (138-kilometer) changeup, but was unable to get a hit as the first baseman fouled it off.

San Diego’s lethargic offense continued in the bottom of the fourth. Tatis Jr. and Soto struck out back-to-back and Machado flied out to second.

Then Darvish faltered. After giving up a single to Hicks, a walk to Westberg, and a single to Lurchman to load the bases in the top of the fifth, Darvitsch gave up a double to Henderson to give up a 4-0 lead. It was a two-out, two-run double.

San Diego’s lethargic offense continued in the bottom of the fifth as Bogart flied out to left field, Cronenwirth was hit by a pitch, and Camposano flied out to center field.

In the top of the sixth, the Asian record was set. With two outs in the top of the sixth, Darvish struck out Urias on three pitches to set a new record for the most strikeouts by an individual Asian major leaguer in history. The record-breaking pitch was a 95-mph (153-kilometer) four-seam fastball. With his 1919th career strikeout, Darvish surpassed Hideo Nomo’s record of 1918. Known for his “tornado” pitching style, Nomo had a career record of 123 wins, 109 losses, and a 4.24 ERA. Park Chan-ho, the “Korean Express,” who won one more game than Nomo and holds the record for most wins by an Asian major leaguer, went 124-98 with a 4.36 ERA and struck out 1,715 batters.

San Diego finally broke the silence in the bottom of the sixth inning with a leadoff solo home run by Cooper. It was Cooper’s 14th home run of the season. After Grisham struck out, Kim came to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs, but he was stranded again, this time in a nine-pitch battle with Rodriguez, as he fouled off a 100-mph (161-kilometer) four-seam fastball. Tatis Jr. also struck out.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Padres loaded the bases with two outs when Bogaerts led off with a walk, but Cronenweth grounded out to the pitcher. Darvish, who threw 81 pitches through seven innings, was replaced by Tom Cosgrove in the top of the eighth. He left the mound with San Diego trailing 1-4 and was not credited with the win. Darvish allowed four runs on eight hits and one walk with six strikeouts in seven innings, raising his season ERA to 4.24.

In the bottom of the eighth, Camposano led off with an infield single to second base, giving the Padres a chance to rally, but Cooper, who had homered in his previous at-bat, was thwarted again when he hit a grounder to third, second and first. Grisham retired the side on a fly out to center field, and that was the end of San Diego’s eighth-inning offense.

Baltimore sent All-Star closer Felix Batista to the mound in the bottom of the ninth, and Ha-Sung Kim led off with a walk. With runners on 2B and 2S, Kim swung at a 102-mph (164-kilometer) four-seam fastball on a five-pitch count, only to see it foul out to the catcher. His last hope for a hit was gone.

San Diego scrambled to score somehow. Tatis Jr. led off with a walk and stole second, his 20th stolen base of the season, and Soto drew a walk to put runners on first and second, but Machado grounded into a 3B-2B-1B double play, and the game ended in a 1-4 San Diego loss.

Kim went 0-for-4 on the day, dropping his season batting average to .283 and his OPS to .821. For the season, he is batting .283 with a .377 on-base percentage, .444 slugging percentage, and .821 OPS with 15 home runs, 42 RBIs, and 27 doubles. He has struggled in his last three games, including this one, going 1-for-12. The day before (Nov. 14), he went 1-for-4 with a double, a walk and a run scored against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The loss leaves San Diego with a record of 56-63 on the season, further dimming their postseason prospects. Baltimore, on the other hand, remains in first place in the American League East with a 74-45 record.

Both the win and the save belonged to the two pitchers who tormented Kim. Rodriguez earned his third win of the season with seven innings of three-hit ball, one walk and six strikeouts to lower his season ERA to 5.44. Batista gave up two walks in the first inning, but pitched a scoreless frame to earn his 32nd save of the season. Batista lowered his season ERA to 1.57.

Darvish, on the other hand, was unable to avoid being the losing pitcher despite having a meaningful game in which he set an Asian record. It was his eighth loss of the season.

Earlier in the day, San Diego sent South Korean left fielder Choi Ji-Man to the 10-day disabled list. Choi will be sidelined for the foreseeable future with a sprained left rib. Choi, who last appeared in a game on April 12 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, has struggled since being traded to San Diego, going hitless in 11 at-bats. The Padres made a three-for-two trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates at the trade deadline to acquire Choi and veteran left-hander Rich Hill. With Choi on the disabled list, the Padres recalled left-handed hitting outfielder Ben Gamel from Triple-A.